Family: Vase Plant, Urn Plant, BROMELIACEAE
Fancy-dress members of the pineapple family (or Bromeliads) from tropical America, Aechmeas are air- feeders, collecting nourishment from water and decaying matter in the upturned cup of their leaves. They can be grown wired onto pieces of driftwood (the roots covered in sphagnum moss), or supported among clusters of large pebbles in open containers; even in open mixtures of leaf mould and fibre with small additions of charcoal and sand.
They are winter-hardy provided they receive shelter from frost. Fertilize only once a year. A diluted solution of calcium carbonate in the leaf vase will produce flowers in about 6 weeks in warm weather.
A fine example of the 100-odd species is Aechmea fasciata, in which tiny mauve blooms nestle among pink bracts, looking for all the world like a Victorian posy. Also popular is Aechmea X ‘Foster’s Favourite’ in which chains of coral berries hang among the wine-dark leaves.